Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Make-up was a dead end

Who knew beauty could be so complicated? For my birthday last year I decided to make my first serious foray into the world of makeup. I didn't know what I was getting into. In a naive way, I thought I would be able to show up at a makeup counter at a department store, buy an entire line of products, and be good to go. Looking back, I can't believe how absurd and laughable a notion that was.

The makeup artist at Nordstrom rattled off an overwhelming, large amount of steps meant to "prep, correct and conceal." I could barely keep up: face base, under eye cream, eye base, layering three eye shadows, gel eyeliner, mascara, foundation, sheer powder, bronzer, blush. When she was done, I looked in the mirror and felt conflicted. While I knew I now looked more conventionally "beautiful" I questioned if this was a step in the right direction.

My justification to wear makeup was tenuous at best. I was bored, I had recently gotten a new job with higher pay and I thought, "Why not?" Some irrational part of me believed that makeup was the one missing piece I needed to manage to attract a boyfriend. According to my then-logic, if cultivating my intellectual prowess and spiritual depth wasn't enough, if it hadn't managed to end the seven-year drought since my last romantic relationship, then maybe outer beauty paired with inner beauty would do the trick.

Well, it's almost a year later and I've spent a bunch of money, wrecked my skin and still don't have a boyfriend. What a bust.

T r a i t o r s (chronological use L to R)
Correctors, concealers, BB creams, foundations, cream and oil primers--brand after brand left me with dry, tight skin and pimples galore. Did I look great in pictures? Even glamorous? Sure! But at night, alone and makeup-less in front of the mirror with my own thoughts, I was unhappy, disappointed and doubting myself.

I know that for others, makeup isn't such an agonizing ordeal. Good on them. They are hashtag blessed.

My skin just won't abide make-up, but it's taken a while for me to finally give in to defeat. Each time a product wouldn't work for me, I'd return to Sephora, deflated, and an enthusiastic employee would suggest some new wonder product: a cleanser with a four star review, a serum, a foundation that's completely weightless and "totally buildable." I'd go home wanting badly for it to work for me; none of them did.

All this to say, I'm throwing in the towel when it comes to makeup. It's created more problems in my life than benefits.

On a deeper level, this is all about adequacy. It's about trust in God. I've spent so much time wondering why some women my age are dating, married and having kids, and I'm not. I know that God is not doling out rewards or punishments to women based on whether they "deserve" a boyfriend/husband/kids. On a bad day, though, I crumple in on myself in prayer or ignore God altogether in a passive-aggressive attempt to rebel against how he wants to order my life. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret.

Look, no amount of navel-gazing or hand-wringing will get me a boyfriend any sooner. Makeup, new clothes, a better body, fancy haircut; it really doesn't make any difference. Perhaps this sounds bitter, but it's been my experience. Okay, okay, being single is not the end of the world; this much I know. It's painful, though.

I'm doing my level best to make the most of it. I'm reading a lot of books, joining rec leagues, going on fun outings with my other single friends. I have a lot of time to pray for others. I write short stories three paragraphs at a time. I talk to God about the things I'm thankful for. If I focus on other things maybe I won't feel so sad.

Until next time...